Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 12, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

American Al-Qaeda Member to Be Indicted for Treason (Fox News)
    Adam Yahiye Gadahn, 28, the American al-Qaeda spokesman known as "Azzam the American," was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, charged with material support and treason - the first time an American has been charged with treason since 1952.
    Gadahn appeared in a video posted on an Islamic militant website last month together with al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Palestinian Militants Release U.S. Hostage Abducted in Nablus - Amos Harel and Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    An American student, Michael Leighton Phillips, 24, was freed late Wednesday after being held for a day by Palestinians.
    A previously unknown Palestinian armed group, Ansar Assuna, claimed it had kidnapped an American student to "confront" the U.S. and force the release of some Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
    Groups by that name operate in Iraq and Lebanon.
    Phillips was working with Project Hope near the West Bank city of Nablus, teaching English.

FBI Agents Still Lacking Arabic Skills - Dan Eggen (Washington Post)
    Five years after Arab terrorists attacked the U.S., only 33 FBI agents have even a limited proficiency in Arabic, and none of them work in the sections of the bureau that coordinate investigations of international terrorism.
    A study released last week found that three terrorists housed at a federal prison in Colorado were able to send more than 90 letters to fellow extremists overseas, in part because the prison did not have enough qualified language translators to understand what was happening.

Lebanon War Boosts Israel Bonds Sales 20% in U.S. - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    There has been a 20% rise in sales of State of Israel Bonds in the U.S. and a 15% increase in Canada since the recent Lebanon war, says Ministry of Finance representative in New York Zvi Halamish.
    Halamish said there had been a "strong surge" in sales, and this was continuing almost two months after the war.

Polish Righteous Gentile Woman Recommended for Nobel Prize - Amiram Barkat (Ha'aretz)
    Holocaust survivor groups in Israel have joined the recommendation of the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, to award the Nobel Peace Prize to 96-year-old Irena Sandlar, a member of the Polish underground group Zegota that was dedicated to saving Jews.
    Sandlar was recognized by the Yad Vashem Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority in 1965 for smuggling numerous Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice: Helping Palestinians Build a Better Future
    Addressing the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington on Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said:
        "When it was time for parliamentary elections earlier this year, we again supported the Palestinians' right to choose their own leaders, and as you know, a plurality of voters cast their votes for Hamas. At the time of the election, there were those who criticized our support for the election. And many still do. But I would ask everyone, 'Is there a better way than to allow people to express their views, to have a role in choosing those who will govern them? And now look at how things are changing. For decades, Hamas dwelled in the shadows, able to hijack the future of all Palestinians at will, without ever having to answer for its actions. Today, however, the Palestinian people and the international community can hold Hamas accountable. And Hamas now faces a hard choice that it has always sought to avoid: Either you are a peaceful political party, or a violent terrorist group - but you cannot be both."  (State Department)
  • Jordan's King Warns Palestinian Statehood at Risk Due to Internal Feuding - Suleiman al-Khalidi
    Jordan's King Abdullah warned feuding Palestinians on Wednesday that their hopes of statehood could be permanently wrecked within months unless they step back from the brink of civil war. "I really think that by the first half of 2007 we might wake up to the reality and realize that the two-state solution is no longer attainable, and then what?," he said. "My view of a two-state solution is a viable Palestinian state, and this is becoming more and more blurred for me." (Reuters)
        See also Rival "Fiefdoms" Eclipsing Dream of Palestinian State - Luke Baker
    At their closest point, the Gaza Strip and West Bank are barely 45 km (28 miles) apart, but they are increasingly two separate worlds. The two Palestinian territories have always had a different look and feel, but in recent weeks the separation has grown starker to the point of severance. The rise to power of Hamas has allowed it to tighten its grip on its base in Gaza, while Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah, which held power for more than a decade before Hamas' election victory in January, has sought to consolidate its stronghold in the West Bank.
        The result, political scientists say, is the emergence of two increasingly antagonistic and well-armed "fiefdoms" with competing ideological, social, and political visions. "It is a very feasible possibility that Gaza becomes a Hamas state and the West Bank a Fatah state," said Mordechai Kedar, a lecturer in Arab affairs at Israel's Bar-Ilan University. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Killed Trying to Infiltrate Israel from Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    Security forces on Tuesday night killed a terrorist who tried to infiltrate Israel from the northern Gaza Strip with an explosive belt ready to be activated. The terrorist was shot shortly after crossing the border fence south of the Karni crossing. According to military sources, the incident illustrates the high motivation among terror organizations in Gaza to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Kills Palestinian Terrorists in Gaza - Ali Waked
    Israeli forces killed five Palestinians during a raid on a weapons storage facility in Khan Yunis in Gaza on Thursday. Palestinians reported that four of those killed were Islamic Jihad operatives. Troops fired on gunmen who tried to attack them, an army spokesman said. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues from Gaza - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza continued firing rockets at Israel on Thursday. Two Kassam rockets were fired at the town of Sderot, while another two rockets landed near kibbutzim in the area, police said. A facility used to store agricultural produce was damaged. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • North Korea and Iran: Will Any Lessons Be Learned? - Gerald M. Steinberg
    A nuclear Iran is even more of a threat than North Korea. In East Asia, North Korea lacks allies and can be contained by an alliance of surrounding states. However, in the Middle East, Iran's close links to Syria and its support for Hizballah make containment more difficult. In addition, in contrast to North Korea, Iran has large oil revenues to finance a major weapons program. North Korea and Iran have extensive military links and, after both Russia and China reduced the flow of technology, Pyongyang became the main source of Teheran's ballistic missile technology and components.
        Iran has followed the North Korean diplomatic strategy of negotiating and appearing to offer some flexibility in order to buy time for completing the production of nuclear weapons. There is still time for concerted international action. Stiff sanctions and total isolation may force Iran to freeze its nuclear program, but if this fails, military action will become necessary. A credible threat of an international coalition prepared to use force will make the Iranian leadership pause and reconsider the risks. It may also lead to internal pressures inside Iran, where the general public might understand the risks of becoming targets of military attacks by an international force. The U.S. will still have to lead - there is no alternative on the horizon. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Negotiating in the Bazaar - Moshe Sharon
    In the Mideastern bazaar, diplomacy agreements are kept not because they are signed but because they are imposed. In the bazaar, the most important rule is that if the vendor knows about your desire to purchase a certain merchandise, he will put its price up. The merchandise in question is "peace," and the Arabs give the impression that they possess this merchandise - and inflate its price - when the truth is they have never had it. In the bazaar only the stupid buyer pays for something he has yet to see.
        Israel should stop talking about "peace." From now on, Israel should make a decision to create a new state of affairs, one that will compel the Arab side to ask for peace - and pay for it in real terms. For, unlike the Arabs, Israel has this merchandise for sale. What will lead them to pay? If they conclude that Israel is so strong they cannot destroy it.
        Here are Ten Rules for Negotiations in the Middle Eastern bazaar [see full article]. The writer, professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was previously the prime minister's adviser on Arab affairs to Menachem Begin. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Reform Run Amok: The UN's New Human Rights Council Makes the Old One Look Good - Editorial
    When the Human Rights Council was approved by the General Assembly in March, we were among the skeptics who doubted that it would be much of a change, mainly because the membership rules still allowed for the election of human rights violators. As it turned out, we were wrong: The council, which completed its second formal session last week in Geneva, has turned out to be far worse than its predecessor - not just a "shadow" but a travesty that the UN can ill afford.
        The previous UN commission occasionally discussed and condemned the regimes most responsible for human rights crimes, such as those in Belarus and Burma. The new council, in contrast, has so far taken action on only one country, which has dominated the debate at both of its regular meetings and been the sole subject of two extraordinary sessions: Israel. If there is no turnaround, the council's performance ought to invite consideration of the measure that was applied to the UN cultural organization, UNESCO, when it ran amok in the 1980s: a cutoff of U.S. funding. If this ill-formed body is to become an exclusive forum for anti-Zionist rants, the principal victim will be not Israel but the UN. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Behind the Hamas-Fatah Skirmishing - Ehud Yaari
    (Jerusalem Report/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • An unprecedented arms-acquisition effort is underway in Gaza. Close to 20 tons of standard explosives have been smuggled in since Israel withdrew last summer. Thousands of RPG grenade launchers and large quantities of rifles, pistols, and grenades are coming in through the tunnels under the Philadelphi Route, separating the Strip from Egypt. Several Katyusha rocket launchers, like those used by Hizballah against northern Israel, are already in the hands of Hamas and other terror groups.
    • It is only a matter of time before they also get shoulder-launched anti-aircraft rockets and third generation anti-tank missiles, like the Russian Koronet. Such weaponry will enable the terrorists to effectively target vehicles and structures 3-4 kms. inside Israel. Also underway is a feverish campaign to dig tunnels into Israel under the security barrier around the Strip, with the aim of facilitating terror attacks in Israel.
    • The Israeli government will have to decide sooner rather than later whether to implement the recommendation of the army and the security services to retake the area along the border between the PA and Egypt. Such a move will once again turn the Gaza Strip into a sealed-off enclave. The alternative is for Gaza to continue becoming a huge stockpile of weapons and ammunition that must ultimately explode, with disastrous consequences.
    • Fatah is not on the way back to power. Hamas is gradually penetrating the security apparatuses which are rapidly ceasing to function in the West Bank, while in Gaza they are receding into a near-desperate defensive posture. The process of degeneration in Fatah is carrying on at full steam. At most, Fatah will manage to survive as the junior partner to Hamas. Israel's partner in the Oslo process, the Palestinian element that is committed to compromise, in theory at least, is going bankrupt.

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